Don’t Tell Gloria Steinem

In Baby Howie, Peanut on May 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Those of you who knew Baby Howie when he was growing up may remember his frighteningly accurate, Rain Man-esque knack for car trivia.  As a small child he memorized the make, model and license plate of every family in our church, schools and neighbourhood.  If you ever wanted to know who was at a party before you walked in, you just asked a 3-year-old BH to identify the automobiles parked up and down the street.  His love of cars may have expanded and grown up, but it has never waned in intensity.  I don’t get this at all, but I was heretofore able to let him wallow in his own internal motor-vehicle-love nest to his heart’s content since it didn’t affect me.  Now, however … it’s personal.  There are signs that he may have passed this bizarre quality onto his niece.

The Peanut has recently been making comments (in her 20-month-old, chipmunk voice) that have stopped us in our tracks.  For example, our friend Y has a black Cadillac.  One day at church, in a parking lot filled with hundreds if not over a thousand cars, Peanut pointed to one and said loudly, “Y’s car!”  I looked, and at first had no idea what she was talking about.  Y would have no reason to be there, and I didn’t see his car.  But I soon realized that she was actually pointing at another Cadillac.  It wasn’t even the same colour as Y’s, and didn’t look much like his car at all to my untrained eye, yet she was insistently pointing at that specific car over and over again.

Another time, she pointed at a silver Jeep and said, “Baby Howie’s car!”  (She doesn’t actually call her uncle Baby Howie, but you get the picture.)  This was slightly less impressive, because that car really did look exactly the same as BH’s – same colour, model, and, uh, that’s all I know about what distinguishes cars from each other.  But then she said, “And Aunty’s car!”  Aunty (who is her little friend A’s mom) also has a Jeep, but it doesn’t look anything like BH’s or the car Peanut was pointing at.  For me, someone who has trouble telling a Hummer from a Prius, this was mystifying.

I know, I know, it’s really annoying when people babble about their kids as if they’re mini-geniuses because they manage to walk upright.  I’m not saying that here.  What I actually find interesting about the possibility that Peanut may grow up to have a thing for cars is that it has revealed to me my inner sexist.  I’m astounded!  I mean, I’m all for equality of the sexes and all that, but … I’m still shocked!  It’s not like I don’t know there are plenty of women out there who love cars.  But somehow, just because I’m a girl and I’ve never cared about them, I assumed that my daughter would be the same way.  And whether this turns out to be just a short-lived phase, or she grows up to be some sort of automobile expert, doesn’t matter to us — it’s just intriguing and amusing right now.

BH, however, is nothing short of thrilled with this development.  He has started putting together a strict vehicular curriculum for the Peanut (forget Sesame Street) that consists largely of carefully selected episodes of Top Gear.

I’m telling you right now, if we end up with a female Petrolhead, she is still going to wear pigtails.  I’m not budging on that one.

  1. I’m putting together a little gift basket so that Peanut can make a well-informed, uninfluenced decision. Car and Driver subscription, “Cars” DVD, Ferrari onesie, keys to a Power Wheels Jeep…that should about do it right?

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